Establishing a New Clinical Specialty Area

There is a two-stage application process to establish a new area of practice for specialty certification.

In Stage 1, a petitioning group identifies its intention to formally apply for creation of a Specialty Certification Board in a specialty area and includes sufficient detail to enable the Committee on Clinical Specialty Certification (CCSC) to make initial decisions regarding the appropriateness of the request. The petitioning group must clearly define the potential specialty area and the population of consumers, as well as demonstrate that the group is composed of practitioners who provide service in that area.

If approved by the CCSC, the petitioning group has exclusive rights to the proposed specialty area for 18 months. No other group can petition to establish specialty certification in that area during that time.

In Stage 2, the petitioning group defines the proposed clinical specialty certification program and demonstrates how the program will comply with the specialty certification standards.

Following Stage 2 approval, the petitioning group is recognized as a Specialty Certification Board in that area. There are additional steps that the new board must complete before they become fully operational and are able to accept applications. These steps include conducting a formalized practice analysis study and peer review. Stage 2 can take anywhere between 24–48 months to complete. 

Tenets for Clinical Specialty Certification

A petitioning group's proposed specialty certification area must meet the following tenets. 

  1. The specialty area is unique from and does not critically overlap the scope of an existing specialty certification.
  2. The specialty area affects a definable population of clients/patients whose needs require a distinct body of knowledge, skills, and experience.
  3. The specialty area represents a distinct and definable body of knowledge and skills, grounded in basic applied research, as well as in principles derived from professional practice.
  4. The specialty area is one in which individual practitioners currently practice and/or are required for delivery of services to clients/patients.
  5. The specialty area has mechanisms for acquisition of the required knowledge, skills, and experience.   

Grant Program

ASHA began a clinical specialty certification grant program to assist with start-up costs incurred by petitioning groups and newly approved Specialty Certification Boards in order to increase the feasibility of establishing new specialty areas. Funding is criteria-based, and is awarded and disbursed in conjunction with distinct phases of the petitioning or specialty board formation process. 

For more information about the grant program, contact    

Approved Specialty Areas 

The following specialty certification boards have been approved and are in the process of creating their specialty certification programs.

Stage 1 Approval  

None at this time.

Stage 2 Approval

Autism Spectrum Disorder 
(approved July 19, 2016)
Petitioning group contact: 
Lynn Koegel
Clinical Professor
Stanford School of Medicine, Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences
Palo Alto, California   

Augmentative and Alternative Communication (AAC)
(approved June 22, 2018)
Petitioning group contact: 
Katya Hill
Associate Professor at the School of Health and Rehabilitation Sciences
AAC Institute 

Voice and Upper Airway Disorders 
(approved November 6, 2018) 
Petitioning group contact: 
Dr. Joseph Stemple 
Professor, Division of Communication Sciences and Disorders 
University of Kentucky, College of Health Sciences  

ASHA Corporate Partners